Reflexology is one of the traditional Chinese medicinal practices. Students learn to identify reflex points on the hands and feet that correspond to systems or organs in the body. Reflexologists massage these reflex points in order to deliver therapeutic relief to the corresponding body parts.
Students looking to receive undergraduate training in reflexology can complete a certificate program in reflexology or a diploma program in massage therapy. A high school diploma is typically required to begin either of these programs. Bachelor's degrees in reflexology are not commonly offered.
A reflexologist can qualify for certification after only 200 training or session hours. A massage therapist who might study reflexology can be certified after 500 hours of training and clinical experience. In both cases, an undergraduate degree is not needed. Certification in reflexology is offered by the American Reflexology Certification Board. Online courses and programs are available.
Certificate in Reflexology
U.S. certification of Eastern medicinal practices generally requires supporting courses in Western healthcare practices. The reflexology component would include:
- Introduction to reflexology
- Foundations of energy therapies
- Anatomy and physiology
- Introduction to health care models
- Pain relief through reflexology
Diploma in Massage Therapy
Massage therapists manipulate the soft tissue of a client's body for a variety of therapeutic purposes, including tension reduction, pain management, injured tissue rehabilitation, and simple relaxation. There are dozens of different massage modalities, which practitioners can combine or alter to suit each therapeutic situation. Most training programs for massage therapists typically last two semesters and require 500-700 hours of classwork and clinical practice. Typical areas of study include:
- Swedish and deep tissue massage
- Five-element shiatsu
- Neuromuscular massage
- Japanese amma and ayurvedic massage
Popular Career Options
Most U.S. states do not require certified reflexologists to be licensed in order to practice. Cities and states may have their own requirements or regulations for professional reflexologists. To qualify for certification examinations from the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage (www.ncbtmb.org), practitioners must take at least 500 hours of instruction, including training in a variety of therapeutic massage techniques. There are several venues where certified reflexologists are likely to practice, including clinics and spas, private practice, traditional Asian medical centers, beauty and nail salons, and holistic health clinics.
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Jobs for massage therapists are projected to grow 22%, much faster than the national average, from 2014-2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). The increasing number of older citizens who remain active and athletic may drive increased demand for massage services.
The median hourly wage for massage therapists, including tips, was $18.29 in May 2015. Most are part-time workers or self-employed and are typically not offered significant benefits. In addition, many massage therapists supply their own table or chair, pillows, linen, and body lotions, and must shoulder the expense for restocking, cleaning, and maintaining equipment.
Continuing Education Information
Certified massage therapists must recertify every four years. The recertification process includes 48 hours of continuing education credits and 200 hours of work experience over the previous four years.
Those interested in reflexology can pursue an undergraduate certificate in reflexology or a diploma in massage therapy. Job prospects look very promising for those in the massage therapy field.